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Last Updated: Monday, 29 December, 2003, 10:13 GMT
Radio boost for rural broadband
TV satellite dish
A low-power antenna similar to satellite dishes can be used
Rural broadband has been given a boost by the UK Government's decision to free up a key radio frequency.

Just before Christmas, the Department of Trade and Industry said it would let internet service providers and community groups use the 5.8Ghz Band C spectrum.

"Opening this band is expected to boost the development of fixed wireless access services, such as low cost internet access in areas not currently reached by broadband services," said the DTI in a statement.

The Ministry of Defence had resisted opening up the spectrum because it has radar systems operating in Band C of the 5GHz part of the spectrum.

Low fees

As from 5 January, groups can apply for licences to use the radio frequency from the new communications regulator, Ofcom.

RJ45 plug
BT says it wants broadband for everyone
The fees have been kept deliberately low, with a cost of 1 per net terminal, subject to a minimum of annual charge of 50.

The licences will be available from the start of February.

The decision could help bring high-speed wireless net access to every household in the country.

The telecoms giant BT is already testing a wireless broadband service using the 5.8GHz band of the radio spectrum.

Net signals

The three-month trials are taking place in Ballingry in Fife, Scotland, Pwllheli in Wales, Porthleven in Cornwall and Campsie in Northern Ireland.

The technology being tested sends the internet signal using radio waves, without the need for wires, similar to wi-fi technology.

The signal travels from a base station to a home computer through a low-power antenna.

It is similar to a satellite dish, but is smaller and diamond-shaped and fits onto the side of a house.

If successful, it could be used to take broadband to rural areas which cannot get it by cable or over the phone line.

The trials are part of BT's pledge to offer broadband to all of UK by 2005.

BT tunes into 'radio broadband'
17 Dec 03  |  Technology
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19 Dec 03  |  Technology
UK hits 3 million broadband mark
11 Dec 03  |  Technology
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06 Oct 03  |  Scotland
Making rural broadband a reality
17 Oct 03  |  Technology
All of UK on broadband 'by 2005'
17 Nov 03  |  Technology


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